US Christians urge opposition to proposed Attorney General
Christians in the US have launched a campaign to oppose Alberto Gonzales' appointment as Attorney General, on the basis of his human rights record.
Some believe that Alberto Gonzalesís own testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee implicates him in the war crimes that were committed in Iraq, including the torture at Abu Ghraib.
He has previously referred to the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete."
Alberto Gonzales' record on issues of torture and international law is a cause not only for deep concern say campaigners, but the Senate should oppose his nomination. His appointment they say would decrease the effectiveness of international law, directly counter the United States' claims of freedom and justice for all, and undermine the military's war on terrorism.
"When our country's reputation for abiding by international law is already suffering, the United States simply cannot afford to support a man who has advocated for ignoring international law" an email from the Sojourners community based in Washington DC states.
At the end of last week The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty also urged members of the U.S. Senate to vote against the confirmation, saying that his track record on the death penalty suggested "a certain casualness toward the solemn task of ensuring that people facing imminent execution have received a fair trial".
Concern was expressed both with the role Gonzales played as chief counsel to then-Governor George W. Bush in Texas and with Gonzales' views - and apparent lack of knowledge - regarding the federal death penalty.
In Texas campaigners say both Gonzales and Bush failed to address such problems as a lawyer who slept through part of his client's trial; cases involving severe mental retardation and mental illness; and several cases where the person scheduled for execution had a claim of innocence. All of these executions proceeded.
Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham have similarly challenged Gonzales, saying, "When you start looking at torture statutes and you look at ways around the spirit of the law...you're losing the moral high ground. Once you start down this road, it is very hard to come back."
"America must have an attorney general with a consistent record of taking the high road on human rights" the web site of the Sojourners community in the US states.
A recent editorial in The New York Times pointed out; "[t]he attorney general does not merely head up the Justice Department. He is responsible for ensuring that America is a nation in which justice prevails."
"Mr. Gonzales' record makes him unqualified to take on this role or to represent the American justice system to the rest of the world. The Senate should reject his nomination" the editorial said.
The Sojourners community suggests that Gonzales "has a laundry list of writings and statements that do too little to prevent the use of torture by the U.S. military."
Perhaps the most infamous case was a memo, ordered by Gonzales in January of 2002, which defined permissible torture as anything short of death, permanent psychological damage, or organ failure.